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Join our epic exploration as we uncover the stories that shape us and yoga communities around the U.S. Plus, check out what’s happening this week on the road and find us in a city near you soon!
Cyndi Lee Interview
Tour Journal Entry #1
The tour has officially kicked off in New York City!
Stay tuned for more journal entries as Taylor & Tarah take on Boston, Toronto, and Washington D.C. next.
Tour Journal Entry #2
It's been quite the wild ride for the Live Be Yoga tour team. Before the tour began, we flew to Boulder, CO, where we were introduced to the rest of the Yoga Journal and Gaia team. We discussed our visions for the tour, our expectations and how we plan to capture all of the fantastic stories.
The three of us understood that the tour would be a big feat, one that would enlighten and surely surprise us. A week later, the Live Be Yoga trio, the Yoga Journal team and the Gaia team flew to the big apple to kickoff YJ Live! New York City was full of energy and definitely kept us on our toes. Some days went smoothly, others were tougher, but we learned how well we work when we can count on each other.
Being a small group of three and taking on a huge project such as the Live Be Yoga tour, can be tough if you forget to breathe. We've quickly learned that it is imperative to stay grounded if we are going to share the magic of this experience. Since New York, we've traveled to New Jersey, Philadelphia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Each place bodes a very unique memory and takeaway.
We are learning more and more about ourselves and each day, we see the world a little bit differently. Thanks to each special person we've met in these few weeks, we've grown in our individual yoga practices and learned just how much we have yet to uncover.
That is what is so special about yoga, sometimes you don't know what you don't know until you learn it.
Tour Journal Entry #3
Coming to the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Massachusetts has been a blessing. The moment we drove up the driveway, I felt a different energy here. There is so much about yoga that we can learn, which is why places like Kripalu are so wonderful for those seeking truth. I love that each individual has a different reason for coming here. It might be for enlightenment, personal improvement, or even healing from trauma or abuse. There seems to be a silent understanding at Kripalu that you are accepted and warmly welcomed, no matter who you are or where you are in your life. In addition to beginner, intermediate, and advanced yoga classes that are offered at the Center, the practice of Kundalini yoga is very prominent.
Today I had the fortunate opportunity to speak with Kundalini teacher Guru Jagat, who harbors a true connection to the world around her. She is someone who has dedicated her life to bettering the world and sharing her passion and knowledge about Kundalini through modern technology. During my conversation with her, it was evident that she has big plans for the future of Kundalini in the United States and abroad.
In addition to her RA MA Institutes in Venice Beach, Calif., Boulder, Colo., and now Spain, Guru Jagat also has a record label, RA MA Records, and a new book coming out October 2016. This woman is a powerhouse of positive energy. Speaking with Guru Jagat opened my eyes to the vast influence Kundalini has on life and how we perceive it. Kripalu is a place that has inspired me to dig deeper into the various types of yoga. I've begun to understand how yoga on and off the mat are not separate, but should be one and the same. This is what Guru Jagat mentioned about her practice and it's now something I will strive for in my search for my inner truth.
Tour Journal Entry #4
The yoga demographic in the United States has slowly expanded over the past 20 years, but a common theme is still present. According to YogaAlliance.org, a recent study in 2016 documented that 70% of practitioners are female and the majority of those are 30 to 39 year olds. For us, yoga in Flint, Michigan shattered those demographics.
It is uncommon to speak with someone in the peak of their developmental age about how yoga is affecting their life. This was our experience at Eisenhower Elementary in Flint, Michigan. Yoga is indescribable for most people, but when a 13-year-old can discuss the benefits mindfulness is having on his schoolwork, friendships and focus, the discussion become much clearer. The Crim Fitness Foundation has taken yoga and deliberately chosen to give it to those who need it most.
Our first class of the day was with children ranging from Kindergarten to 6th grade. Watching them do yoga postures was somewhat surreal. I know how and why I practice, but I wondered if they knew why they practiced. So, to find out, we talked with 6th grader, James Clark. His passion for yoga was clear when he explained exactly how yoga has helped him mentally and physically.
"My leg hurt and I couldn't walk. But then I went to yoga and it didn't hurt anymore." By practicing yoga, students like James have the ability to focus the trajectory of their lives on positivity and improve their mental performance at a very young age. Not only is yoga helping them stay healthy, but it seems to be changing the way they think.
"Mindfulness makes me feel more confident with school work. It makes you feel calm and controls your temper." James commented. "Yoga helps me focus better on what I'm doing. It takes out the distractions."
Yoga has improved so many lives and it is now seeping into the younger populations, thanks to organizations like the Crim Foundation. By creating programs like this in schools, some of the developmental problems that students experience growing up can be diminished or eliminated completely. If yoga can aid in the growth of adults, imagine what it could do for children if they had the opportunity to practice. Yoga and mindfulness at Eisenhower Elementary proves that young people now have a concrete method to create good and healthy habits.
Tour Journal Entry #5
Wisdom From the Oldest and Youngest Yogis in Florida
By Live Be Yoga Tour Ambassador Taylor O'Sullivan
During our time in Florida, we’ve gotten to meet an incredibly wide array of yogis. From the oldest practicing yogi to the youngest yoga instructor in the state, each of them has their own unique story.
We first met Shirley Chase, 91-year-old yogi and swimming gold medalist. She practices yoga several times a week in conjunction with her daily lap swimming. Shirley is confident, bold, and fearless, and currently training for her next swimming competition in Jacksonville. She told us that yoga has helped her immensely with her flexibility and most importantly, it makes her happy.
On the complete opposite end of the age spectrum, we met 15-year-old yoga instructor Lexi Hidalgo. She’s the youngest certified yoga teacher in Florida. Lexi is a freshman in high school, but seems wise beyond her years. She transitioned from cheerleading to yoga because she loved the way it made her feel. Instead of competition, she felt support and acceptance. Through yoga, she’s grown immensely and has learned to love herself. Yoga has equipped her with confidence and grace that allows her to transcend the stresses of of high school.
Finally, we practiced with Paige Held, hot yoga master, entrepreneur, wife, mother of four, and owner of two immensely popular studios in Fort Lauderdale. At 37, Paige is a radiant ball of energy, leading classes with nearly 100 passionate students. The feeling of love and community in her classes is palpable. Her entire family practices together, including her husband and their children. It was incredible to witness the special bond they have formed through yoga.
These three strong women have made one thing very clear — ANYONE can practice yoga. Any age, background, physical shape, mental state — yoga is for everyone.
We often hear, “Oh, I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible.” We try to impart on people that yoga is so much MORE than practicing asana or being flexible. Yoga is about living mindfully, practicing meditation, exercising kindness, fueling your body with nutrients, practicing safe asana, and cherishing your loved ones. Yoga is so much more than handstands and cute leggings.
So next time you hear someone say “Oh, I’m too _____” for yoga (old, young, out of shape, inflexible, whatever), tell them about 91-year-old Shirley Chase or 15-year-old Lexi Hidalgo. These women are a true testament that yoga is for everyone.
Tour Journal Entry #6
5 Ways I Stay Healthy and Maintain My Practice On the Road
By Live Be Yoga Tour Ambassador Taylor O'Sullivan
Staying healthy while traveling with the Live Be Yoga Tour can be a challenge, but it’s possible! From practicing in my hotel room with Gaia.com to staying hydrated, here are my top 5 tips for maintaining good health on the road.
1) Hunt for healthy food.
Healthy eating is so important, but it’s not always easy when you're living on a bus. Since we don’t have the ability to cook while we’re traveling, I make a point of trying to find healthy food while I'm on the road. When we get to a new city, I always Yelp around to find local juice bars, raw food restaurants, and farm to table operations. Once I find a spot that I love, I stock up on portable goodies like green juices, fruit, and vegan energy bars. I turn to Lorissa's Kitchen for emergency snacks when I'm on the bus for long stretches of time with no food.
2) Create new habits.
I’ll be honest, I used to hate running. I always made a point of avoiding treadmills because I felt like I wasn’t cut out for running. The Live Be Yoga Tour is covering nearly the entire country in six months, so we’ve racked up some rather long drives in the past two months. After eight hours in the car, I found myself wanting to run like crazy when we arrived at our hotel. My fellow Live Be Yoga Tour ambassador Tarah Stuht introduced me to the hotel gym, where I apprehensively became acquainted with the treadmill. I didn’t like it at first, but I LOVED the way it felt to move my legs after such long drives. Running is something I never thought I would enjoy, but it’s quite fitting for this kind of a trip. It’s important to be open to creating new healthy habits, especially those that are conducive to long-term travel.
3) Use Gaia.com in hotel rooms.
Even though we’re on a yoga tour, we don’t get to practice in studios as often as you would imagine. But luckily for us, we have Gaia.com, a seemingly endless stream of yoga classes and guided meditations. With Gaia, we can practice anywhere … our hotel rooms, outside, even on the Live Be Yoga Tour bus! In the morning, I roll out my mat, prop up my iPad, and start the day with a guided morning vinyasa flow. With over 7,000 titles, we have access to some of the world’s best yoga teachers on demand, whenever and wherever it’s convenient.
4) Get enough sleep.
Mom was right … in order to maintain optimal mental and physical health, it’s essential to get enough sleep. Even when we have long days filming or traveling, we do our best to get eight hours of shut-eye.
5) Drink tons of water.
I believe strongly in listening to your body. I’m constantly thirsty, so it’s not uncommon for me to consume 100-plus fluid ounces of water a day. Instead of spending unnecessary money and hurting the environment, I’ve ditched plastic water bottles in exchange for my CamelBak Chute Vacuum Insulated 40oz Bottle It’s sweat-proof, durable, and lightweight, but its greatest feature is its insulation. This bottle can literally keep my water cold for 24-48 hours, even in a hot car or heated yoga class. It’s the only bottle I rely on to keep me hydrated on the Live Be Yoga Tour.
Tour Journal Entry #7
Yoga for Beginners
Taking your first yoga class can be very intimidating. We all have a perception of what yoga “looks like,” but truth be told, there’s a lot more to it than that. Yoga is a lifelong practice and we’re all beginners. If you still need some convincing, here are a few pointers to get you started.
First and foremost, learn to laugh at yourself. Transitioning from Warrior Two to Chaturanga your first time might feel like a circus act and that’s totally okay — just laugh and keep going!
Don’t try to be perfect. Everyone in class will have varying levels of experience, so rather than comparing yourself to others, turn your attention inward and cherish your own practice.
Chances are you won’t love your first class. Understanding yoga is process, so allow yourself to experience all the emotions that go along with it, including frustration and confusion. Regardless of how you feel, keep practicing. You’ll see a significant change in your life!
Start at home! If you want to get more experience without people around you, use a resource like Gaia to practice at home to build confidence for next time you go to a studio.
Don’t forget to breathe. Breath allows us to calm our minds and connect to where we are. Even if you’re just breathing in your day to day life, you’re already practicing yoga.
So grab your mat (loaner or otherwise) and give yourself a chance, because it might just be the best thing you’ll ever decide to do.
Tour Journal Entry #8
4 Ways to Practice Yoga On the Road
Traveling for work? Taking a road trip? No problem! Finding the time and place to practice yoga or meditate when you're out of your normal routine is one of the greatest ways to challenge yourself. Here are 4 of the great places we visited while traveling on the Live Be Yoga Tour, and how we got creative with our practice.
1. Tranquil Space, Washington, D.C. Tranquil Space was one of our favorite studios on the East Coast. This beautiful place featured wonderful decor, inspiring instructors, and plenty of studio rooms to satisfy every student. If you live in the area and you're new to yoga, Tranquil Space is a welcoming community of students and teachers eager to meet new yogis.
2. Walking Meditation in the Sedona Vortexes If you’re craving a memorable place to travel this summer, you can’t miss visit Sedona, Arizona. This city is home to one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and it will surely awe even the most experienced traveler. To dig deeper into your own spirituality, take a guided yoga and meditation hike with YogaLife, a fantastic retreat and hiking group that will open your heart and refresh your soul.
3. Hotel Del Coronado - Beach Yoga The Hotel Del Coronado is located in beautiful San Diego, California, where the sun shines and the waves crash perfectly on the shore. This landmark hotel boasts a storied history and beautiful beach view rooms, perfect for any yogi looking to get out of town and refill their spirit. The beach happens to be over a mile long, so picking out a place to practice is easy. If you’re from the Northwest, taking a road trip down highway 1 is probably one of the most gorgeous drives you’ll ever experience.
4. Airbnb rentals Airbnb.com is ideal for those of us who want to immerse ourselves into our summer vacation. The great thing about renting a house, apartment, or cabin instead of a hotel is that you might have a backyard, a beautiful living room to practice in, and/or a kitchen for cooking healthy meals and saving some money.
Summer is a great time to visit new places and try new things. So instead of skipping yoga when you’re traveling, simply incorporate it into your vacation or trip. Yoga Every Day makes it easy to practice anytime, anywhere, so step out of your comfort zone and hit the road!
Tour Journal Entry #9
How To Find The Right Yoga Style And Teacher
Maybe you’ve never taken a yoga class before, but you’ve heard about some of the incredible benefits and want to give yoga a try. But how do you pick the right style, studio, and teacher?
I would absolutely suggest trying several different studios and teachers. Check out a heated vinyasa flow, a kundalini class, traditional ashtanga. See which style feels best to you and delve in from there.
When it comes to your yoga teacher, think about whether you want someone who’s in tune with anatomy and offers precise micro adjustments, or someone who delves deep into yoga philosophy in every class. Would you rather sweat and tone your body with a power vinyasa flow, or do you dream of awakening your spirit with Kundalini?
We’ve had the pleasure of practicing with several renowned yogis, all with their own distinct style. What’s so incredible about each of these teachers is that not only can you take their classes in the studio, but you can also find a huge library of their classes on Gaia. So even if you’re nowhere close to their city, you can still practice with them remotely from wherever you are in the world. Technology is pretty cool!
In Los Angeles, we met Ashley Turner, who blends yoga, psychology and neuroscience in her teachings. Sianna Sherman, also from LA, created the Goddess Yoga Project, which allows practitioners to call upon the creative energy of the universe and reclaim their mythic feminine power. Sianna’s classes have been known to incorporate fable-like music, drums, stories and mantra chanting. Her classes are enlightening, juicy, and far from dull!
We practiced with the joyful former gymnast Andrea Marcum at Yogaworks. Her ashtanga-inspired vinyasa style is a delicate balance of philosophy, muscle building and entertaining anecdotes. In Andrea’s classes, music is minimal and long holds in a pose are common. Long-time practitioners and beginners alike love Andrea’s classes.
We also met Kia Miller and Guru Jagat, both of whom are livening up communities in California with their energizing and heat-cultivating Kundalini classes. These classes involve a powerful mix of asana, breath, kriyas, and chanting. Kundalini will wake you up and enliven your spirit in ways you’ve never imagined!
If you’re looking for a more physical asana practice, Eric Paskel’s studio Electric Soul Yoga will challenge you both physically and mentally. Eric is ultra-cool in his teachings, dropping f-bombs, incorporating real talk and a playing a slew of killer 90’s jams. This heated vinyasa class will get you moving and leave you feeling absolutely amazing.
There are so many different kinds of yoga that the only way you can possibly determine the right studio, style and teacher for you is to get out there and TRY them. And if you can’t make it to the studio, then practice with these world-renowned Gaia teachers right from your living room.
If you vibe with a specific yoga style or teacher, listen to that intuition! Keep practicing and let yoga positively influence your entire life!
Tour Journal Entry #10
Chicago Cubs' Mental Strength Coach on the Importance of Meditation
By Live Be Yoga Tour Ambassador Taylor O'Sullivan
As part of the Live Be Yoga tour, we had the opportunity to meet Darnell McDonald, the mental strength coach for the Chicago Cubs. He coaches MLB players in mindfulness, yoga, and meditation, and starts every baseball practice with an 8-10 minute meditation followed by yoga.
Meditation and yoga are beginning to trickle into the sports industry as coaches are starting to understand how mindfulness, yoga, and meditation can bring a new level of consciousness and presence to their athletes. The manager of the Chicago Cubs, Joe Maddon, tells his players: “I don’t expect you to be perfect, I expect you to be present."
Meditation has benefits for everyone, whether you're an athlete or a parent. Darnell even puts his young children in “meditation time out," where he asks them to sit quietly and meditate for a few minutes.
Personally, Darnell meditates daily, whether it’s a seated meditation or through a yoga practice. He tells his players that meditation is all about consistency. People often think that in order to garner the benefits of meditation, they have to sit like a monk and meditate for 40 minutes every day. Darnell tells them, “Consistency is key, so one minute every day is better than zero minutes.”
For many people, committing to a daily meditation practice is the biggest hurdle to overcome. Darnell tells people who are struggling to maintain a consistent meditation practice, “You can meditate anywhere. In the car, on the bus, at the park. Take a conscious breath and relax. Any conscious breath that you take is a meditation.”
Darnell has committed his life to sharing meditation with the professional sports community. He wants to empower athletes to be more present both on and off the field. He tells us, “You’re only living when you’re living in the present moment. I want everyone to feel that and experience that.”
Tour Journal Entry #11
Learning the True Meaning of Practicing Yoga 'Off the Mat’
By Live Be Yoga Tour Ambassador Tarah Stuht
Many of us take one hour of the day for our yoga practice. Once a day, we find the time to turn inward and clear our minds. Whether it be in a studio or at home, we get off our mats, roll them up, and conclude our yoga for the day. Whatever happens during the rest of the day doesn't relate to what we just did. So what was it all for? Why did we bother clearing one hour of our stress away, just to allow it to return?
There have been moments on the Live Be Yoga Tour when I’ve had to intentionally stop, reflect, and choose not to react quickly. If something doesn’t turn out the way I expect or if my plans change abruptly, jumping to anger and frustration can be quite easy to do. Over time, I've compared this experience to those moments when I'm on my yoga mat. Because I've acknowledged the similarity between these experiences, I can now remind myself to stop, breathe, and act from a clearer state of mind. Just like that moment when you take one more breath in your pose, the growth happens when we act calmly in a moment of extreme stress. This is truly yoga "off the mat": practicing patience, acceptance, and self-awareness at all points of the day.
So next time roll up your mat, try to stay there emotionally and mentally for the rest of the day. No matter what happens to you in the hours that follow, remember that feeling of holding a difficult pose: it’s challenging, but you can find the peace within to get through it. This is yoga.
Join Taylor & Tarah as they learn and practice a Tibetan Buddhist meditation.
Darnell McDonald Interview
Real Stories from Gaia Members
Hear what members have to say about the impact Gaia has had on their yoga journeys.